One person dies in Concord house fire, officials say

Judy Poler was well-known animal advocate and nurse
Published: Sep. 29, 2021 at 11:17 AM EDT|Updated: Sep. 29, 2021 at 1:35 PM EDT
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CONCORD, N.C. (WBTV) - Well-known local animal advocate and nurse Judy Poler has died in a house fire in Concord. The fire happened at the family home in the 100 block of Forestcliff Court NE early on Tuesday.

“Our community is crushed. Our world is a little more dim,” said Poler’s friend and longtime fellow nurse Angela Sharpe.

Crews with the Concord Fire Department were dispatched at approximately 4:19 a.m. on Tuesday. Firefighters arrived at approximately 4:24 a.m. and upon arrival, both levels of the home were engulfed in flames.

One resident was outside the home. He was treated for smoke inhalation at the scene and later transported to a local hospital. The resident informed responders that his wife was still inside the house. Firefighters located the woman, rescued her from the fire, and immediately took her to EMS. She was transported to a local hospital for further treatment and later passed away.

“She suffered the severe injuries that she suffered because she went back into her house to get some pets, both her own and some she was fostering for the Cabarrus Pets Society,” Sharpe added.

Twenty-six firefighters from Concord FD responded to the call and were able to control the fire by approximately 4:50 a.m.

Concord FD was assisted by Kannapolis Fire Department, Cabarrus County EMS, Concord Police Department, and Concord Electric Systems. Additional agencies that assisted include NC Office of the State Fire Marshal State Fire Investigator, ATF, Union County Fire Marshals office with ATF K-9, and the Davidson County Fire Marshals office with 3D Camera

The Concord Fire Department is investigating the fire. The cause is undetermined.

Judy Poler worked as a nurse for Atrium Health, but was well-known for her work with animal rescue. Poler was president of the Cabarrus Pets Society, described on the web site as “a 501(c)3 non-profit animal rescue organization, was established in 2002 to rescue rehabilitate, and re-home abandoned, abused, sick, and neglected animals in our community.”

Cabarrus Pets Society released a statement on Poler’s death:

“Cabarrus Pets Society suffered an enormous loss today. Our president, Judy Poler, lost her life after a house fire destroyed her home in the early morning hours. She fought to get all of her personal pets and the fosters out of the home. She suffered significant lung damage and didn’t recover. She was an angel sent from God and she was always helping others. The rescue world will not be the same without her.”

Many friends of Poler and supporters of the Cabarrus Pets Society shared their grief over her loss on social media.

“This is so very heartbreaking,” wrote one person. “She lived for her love of furry friends. She had a heart like no other for the pets left behind. She passed away saving them just as she lived saving them. The world will miss her as well as the furry friends of Cabarrus Pets Society.”

“This is beyond sad. No matter what kind of day Judy was having, she was always a ray of sunshine. She will be missed by so many,” wrote another.

Shannon Leckinger operates Abbott’s Frozen Custard in Concord. After finding out about Poler’s death, she set up boxes inside the shop to collect donations of pet supplies in honor and memory of Poler. The shop is located at 10070 Edison Square Dr NW e100 in Concord.

“I saw that there was a need for pet supplies for the Cabarrus Pets Society that she was president of, and I thought that maybe through our business we could get the word out that we could help collect donations for her and for the volunteers that run the society,” Leckinger said. “They are looking for cat litter, dog food, and kitten and cat food.”

A GoFundMe page has been set up for the Poler family. By Wednesday afternoon it had nearly topped the $20,000 goal. Anyone that wants to donate in her memory can also visit the Cabarrus Pets Society website ( or Facebook page (

Atrium Health also released a statement on Poler’s passing:

“We are extremely saddened by the death of our longtime teammate and friend, Judy Poler. Judy worked at Atrium Health Cabarrus for over 22 years. She was an amazing nurse with the skills and adaptability to work in multiple areas across the hospital. Judy was the “calm in the storm” who could take on any challenge while remaining positive and supportive of both her patients and teammates. Judy’s legacy includes not only the number of patients impacted by the incredible care she provided over the course of her extraordinary career but the exponentially larger number of patients who have been and will be cared for by nurses Judy mentored, trained and influenced.”

“Judy, if you are listening,” Sharpe added, “your light will always be with us. We all hope that we will continue to be compassionate and treat everyone like family and make you proud. You will never be truly lost from us.”

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